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Area loggers harvest trees in $20,000 fundraiser for Gillette children’s hospital

FOR THE KIDS - A JATCO employee skids trees at the fundraiser through the Log a Load for Kids program.

More than a dozen logging companies and professionals from northern Minnesota have partnered together on a logging project to raise funds for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Log a Load for Kids is an annual, nationwide effort that involves harvesting timber and donating the value of the timber to local children’s hospitals to fund treatment, education and research.

Locally, 13 companies and private contractors are contributing labor and equipment to harvest primarily aspen trees, along with some birch and maple, from a 10-acre tract of tax-forfeited land in Rice Lake, which is managed by St. Louis County’s Land and Minerals Department. Over the last few days, loggers felled the trees, and on Tuesday worked to process the timber. The logs will ultimately be loaded onto trucks and hauled to mills.

It’s estimated they’ve harvested enough trees to fill 15-20 truckloads, valued at around $20,000. This will be combined with other donations and money raised through a golf tournament for a total gift to Gillette Children’s that averages $30,000-$40,000 each year.

“This combines two things I value,” said Tom McCabe of McCabe Forest Products, who also serves on the Minnesota Chapter of Log a Load for Kids, “responsible harvesting and giving to Gillette.” McCabe and his company have been donating through Log a Load for Kids for more than 20 years.

“It’s fun when you can do your work in a way that gives back,” added Jeremy Stecker of JATCO. JATCO donated skidding and processing services and equipment to this year’s efforts.

St. Louis County Land and Minerals is responsible for managing nearly 900,000 acres of tax forfeited land on behalf of the state.

County foresters work to identify tracts of land that are suitable for logging primarily based on the age and species of trees on the landscape, among other factors. The department offers several timber auctions each year. Staff worked with Log a Load representatives to identify the land for this year’s efforts and offer the timber rights for sale.

St. Louis County foresters coordinate the planting of tree seedlings on tax forfeited land every year, including approximately 410,000 in 2023. On this particular tract of land, foresters expect natural regeneration of the trees to occur.

Logging companies and individuals involved in this year’s Log a Load for Kids project include McCabe Forest Products, Waste Wood Recyclers, JATCO, LP Two Harbors, Kimball Enterprize, McCoy, Titan, Jerry Demenge, Greg Tibbets, Jerry Donek, Charlie Van Dorn, Ben Lobb, and Hull Forest Products.

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